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Fritiofs Saga   By: (1782-1846)

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Introduction, Bibliography, Notes, and Vocabulary Edited by ANDREW A. STOMBERG


Ever since the establishment, many years ago, of courses in Swedish in a few American colleges and universities the need of Swedish texts, supplied with vocabularies and explanatory notes after the model of the numerous excellent German and French editions, has been keenly felt. This need has become particularly pressing the last three years during which Swedish has been added to the curricula of a large number of high schools. The teachers in Swedish in these high schools as well as in colleges and universities have been greatly handicapped in their work by the lack of properly edited texts. It is clearly essential to the success of their endeavor to create an interest in the Swedish language and its literature, at the same time maintaining standards of scholarship that are on a level with those maintained by other modern foreign language departments, that a plentiful and varied supply of text material be furnished. The present edition of Tegnér's Fritiofs Saga aims to be a modest contribution to the series of Swedish texts that in the most recent years have been published in response to this urgent demand.

Sweden has since the days of Tegnér been prolific in the creation of virile and wholesome literary masterpieces, but Fritiofs Saga by Tegnér is still quite generally accorded the foremost place among the literary products of the nation. Tegnér is still hailed as the prince of Swedish song by an admiring people and Fritiofs Saga remains, in popular estimation at least, the grand national epic.

Fritiofs Saga has appeared in a larger number of editions than any other Scandinavian work with the possible exception of Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales. It has been translated into fourteen European languages, and the different English translations alone number approximately twenty. In German the number is almost as high. Several school editions having explanatory notes have appeared in Swedish and in 1909 Dr. George T. Flom, Professor of Scandinavian Languages and Literature of the University of Illinois edited a text with introduction, bibliography and explanatory notes in English, designed for use in American colleges and universities, but the present edition is the first one, as far as the editor is aware, to appear with an English vocabulary.

Fritiofs Saga abounds in mythological names and terms, as well as in idiomatic expressions, and the preparation of the explanatory notes has therefore been a perplexing task. A fairly complete statement under each mythological reference would in the aggregate reach the proportions of a treatise on Norse mythology, but the limitations of space made such elaboration impossible. While brevity of expression has thus been the hard rule imposed by the necessity of keeping within bounds, it is hoped that the notes may nevertheless be found reasonably adequate in explaining the text. Many mythological names occur frequently and in different parts of the text, and as constant cross references in the notes would likely be found monotonous, an effort has been made to facilitate the matter of consulting and reviewing explanatory statements for these terms by adding an index table.

It has not been thought necessary or desirable to translate many idiomatic expressions in the text, as the vocabulary ought to enable the student, without the assistance of a lavish supply of notes, to get at the meaning. It would seem that the study of a foreign text would be most stimulating and invigorating to a student, if he himself be given a chance to wrestle with difficult sentences.

The introduction that precedes the text makes no pretension of being anything more than an attempt to state in broad outline the salient facts in the life of Tegnér and in the genesis and development of the Fritiofs Saga theme... Continue reading book >>

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